Recently I had the good fortune to watch a drama that managed to be both touching and surprising. I’d chosen the series for two reasons – the lead actors I knew to be very talented and the writer had done excellent work in the past – but not without some trepidation. After all, it was no secret that the story featured a young girl who been infected with HIV as the result of a blood transfusion, so the concern was there that it would dissolve into a “disease of the week” teary melodrama. The series sat in a stack with others, waiting for that moment when I felt that I could face whatever the story offered. After all, sometimes you just feel like a good cry.
But the author, Lee Kyung Hee (이경희), had other plans. “Thank You” (고맙습니다), starring Jang Hyuk (장혁) as the troubled Dr. Min Gi Seo, Gong Hyo Jin (공효진) as the courageous and loving unwed mother Lee Young Shin, and the charming Seo Shin Ae (서신애) as her daughter Bom, charmed, delighted, and yes, made me cry, but never in a manipulative way. It was memorable as much for what it did not include as what it did. For example, the brash doctor is the son of the predictable chaebol head (his mother) but we are spared the cliché of a mother opposing a son’s interest in an unsuitable woman. (Unless, of course, we consider the reaction of Bom’s grandmother as her son learns that he is the father of an 8-year-old daughter and wants to make amends.) Instead we are treated to a series of small moments in which life in an island village unfolds, and how a grieving man comes to honor the promise to his dying lover and finds family, a meaningful life, and love.
The performances are outstanding in this drama. Gong Hyo Jin, with many memorable performances to her credit, including roles in “Ruler of Your Own World” and “Hello My Teacher”, inhabits the role of the prettiest girl in the village who succumbs to the charming boy she loves and pays the price, but ends up fiercely in love with her daughter and willing to make any sacrifice. You can’t take your eyes from her. Jang Hyuk, in his first series after his army duty, shows a maturity and sophistication in his acting, and as well an emotional connection. As his character Gi Seo comes to find his place in the community and a home you see this peacefulness wash over him, especially when Gi Seo picks up Bom, to protect her, to calm her, or to play.
The supporting characters also contribute to the strength of the story, particularly Shin Goo (신구) as Mr. Lee, Young Shin’s senile grandfather and Shin Sung Rok (신성록) as Choi Suk Hyun, Bom’s father. However, to fully describe what this drama does so well would be to spoil it for you. It is highly recommended.
This drama can be seen on Dramafever.com.